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Last night was the meeting of the Progressive DFL Caucus in Grand Rapids, and Tom Micheletti, of Excelsior Energy, presented on the Mesaba project. For more details on the project, see Micheletti was introduced by Sen. Tom Saxhaug, who, for the record, noted that coal plants are poisoning our atmosphere.

Sen. Tom Saxhaug

Micheletti started out with five primary DEBATABLE points:

1) Mesaba IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) is the least cost resource baseload — that we have to consider the life cycle basis, the long term, when we make this determination.

2) Mesaba IGCC provides long term economic benefits

3) Mesaba IGCC provides future flexibility

4) Mesaba IGCC provides significant economic impacts — it’s unique nature lends to promotion of other developments in IGCC

5) Mesaba IGCC is the only coal based technology that affords us opportunities to deal with greenhouse gasses

6) Mesaba IGCC offers consumers the biggest bang for their buck due to emissions reductions and other capabilities

Of course Mesaba’s $2 billion dollar price tag was not addressed; nor the cost/benefit analysis taking into account the extreme costs of this project; flexibility was touted when there is no plan to capture and sequester CO2 or forge the hydrogen economy; there was no distinction between “potential” and “opportunity to realize” and actually doing something; or recognition that the “big bang for the buck” requires far beyond what this project offers.

After this six point introduction, Micheletti sprang into “Bush league” fearmongering straight out of the Karl Rove playbook, citing the Iraq war, our oil crisis, and that four major oil fields are nearing the end of production. “I don’t mean to scare you, but we have to pay attention!” We have an addiction to oil.

Sure, but will someone please explain exactly what an oil addiction has to do with producing electricity using coal gasification? This is a demonstration project for production of electricity, not synfuels for burning, and Micheletti’s equity in this project is based on a Power Purchase Agreement for electricity, not any promise of intervention or treatment of our oil addiction. Utter conflatulance…

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He noted that no new electric infrastructure had been built for decades, but he neglected to address the big line in the MISO queue of 16,712MW of generation in the MISO queue waiting for interconnection. Once more with feeling, we “need” 6,300MW of new generation by 2020 in the REGION and have 16,712MW of new generation waiting for interconnection in the MISO queue. That’s 10,000 to spare, and though some projects are dropping off, new ones are added daily. That’s nearly three times what we need. Micheletti says that there is a “significant need for generation, an increase by 20%” but did not address all the new generation in line. Again, here’s that great map found in the CapX2020 study, p. 7:

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Look at the new additions at the bottom of the MISO queue, 38740-01 and 38740-02, the two GRE 800MW coal plants in St. Louis County, and remember the words of a former GRE exec who said, “If you let us have transmission, we’ll build coal, if not, we’ll build distributed generation.” Suprise, suprise, they’re building coal.

Micheletti noted that mercury is causing health problems and even worse, particulate matter — he cited a recent article about deaths directly attributable to particulate matter in the atmosphere.

There’s no argument from me on the reductions of emissions that can be achieved with coal gasification, it is significant and it is real. But the noxious toxins show up elsewhere (in coal gasification, it’s in the water).

His comments about sequestration were odd, saying that “We’re looking at piping into North Dakota” and that “lots of money is being spent on this,” but a reading of all submissions note that this Mesaba project only has “capability” of capture, and no where does it plant to capture carbon dioxide, much less do anything with it.

Micheletti kept referring to other things to do with syngas, such as powering engines, or making plastics, but nowhere in any of the Excelsior submissions is there any plan to do anything other than generate electricity.

About transmission, he said that Mesaba is designed to have as little impact as possible, and that for the most part, at least 50% and maybe 80% of the transmission necessary would utilize existing rights of way. He said that Mesaba would connect at Blackberry, and then go to Riverton, and NOT Forbes as previously stated. Riverton? That’s news. And of course there was not mention that in the G-477 MISO interconnection study, only 90MW of the 1,200MW modeled was deliverable to load. THE MISO REPORT HAS BEEN DISAPPEARED. Good thing I saved it, eh? To verify that it’s missing, go to the MISO queue and search for “Itasca” and “St Louis” for the 531MW listings , when you find them, go all the way to right for “X2 Report” and click and…. NADA!!! (This disappearing act is happening all too often on this project).

When asked Mesaba’s cost per MW hour, Micheletti said, “I can’t tell.” I believe he meant that he cannot disclose what it is, as opposed to not being able to ascertain the cost. He said that “with the federal benefits” it’s close if not equal to least cost generation. Well, considering the federal benefits… instead, let’s compare apples to apples.

There was a very odd and difficult to follow/pinpoint discussion about water drainage and usage from Canisteo, and I couldn’t tell if he was saying that they were going to pump it out and then pump it back in, or if it was to be pumped in somewhere else — and of course he wouldn’t take questions from little ol’ moi!

Rep. Loren Solberg

Rep. Loren Solberg
had some interesting comments, because for some reason he’d just been out to Big Stone, and said that we have to go forward with Mesaba, because otherwise we’re going to have coal plants going up, but DUH, Big Stone II is happening and is expected to be licensed in South Dakota next summer. This is not binary, build Mesaba or build something else, because the something else will be permitted long before Mesaba gets off the ground. Then what??? And he also said that “We can’t fight Big Stone.” HUH? He can indeed fight Big Stone, we can indeed fight Big Stone — the proceeding is open to Intervention until 3/16/06.

There were other great questions about the market for Mesaba power since it was exempt from Certificate of Need and a Power Purchase Agreement was an “entitlement,” and someone else asked about use of other resources and why this is not paired with renewables and why there is not a push for renewable distributed generation in the area. That was when Solberg said that there wasn’t sufficient wind in the area. HUH? Here’s the state’s wind map == compare Grand Rapids and various sites on the range with Northfield, where St. Olaf is putting up a turbine, and where Carleton’s is spinning as we speak! That’s just as goofy as the people who say we have to generate wind energy and ship it over long transmission lines to Illiniois where they don’t have wind!

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Yesterday’s meeting up here in Grand Rapids at the DFL Progressive Caucus got off to an auspicious start — Tom Micheletti couldn’t get his Power Point and computer cooperating, so Linda Castagneri gladly offered her techinical assistance, demonstrating the importance of our electrical mantra, “It’s all connected.” After Micheletti gave a preliminary survey of his presentation, he opened it up to questions as he went, and several instantly raised their hands, including me with a grin! He stared at me and stated that “I’m not taking any questions from Carol!” Really, he said that in public! The Duluth KBJR Ch.11 news crew was there, and I hope they captured it for posterity! His objections? He said:

1) He said that I was an attorney representing people on this. Ummmm, he’s an attorney representing his firm on this? Ja, your point? (CLICK HERE and type in “Micheletti” and “Thomas”).

2) He said that I was from (gasp!) RED WING! Hey, isn’t he from Long Lake? Ja, your point? (CLICK HERE and type in “519 Ferndale”).

He said he’d take questions from anyone from the area, but not from me! Hey, Tom, I represent people from the area, people right next to the proposed Mesaba site! OK, fine… whatever… but of course I got my two cents in anyway.

And as if his saying that once wasn’t enough, he said it a second time, again addressing me by name and prohibiting me from asking questions! What a hoot! He should well know the impact of statements like that! Not long after, Rep. Loren Solberg got up from his seat near one of the organizers and sat right behind me! And it wasn’t because he wanted to discuss anything, he tried to shush me! Too funny! I wonder if that’s because they’d warned beforehand that Micheletti was NOT to get any “difficult questions.” How absurd. Is it that Tom’s not able to handle anything but easy questions, or that there are questions that are too challenging to the project to have the public hear, much less consider? What are they afraid of?

Someone who was present called a friend this morning and said it was “obvious he was afraid of me” and that “he was rude.” A couple of people came up to me afterward offering support, distressed by his behavior, and were concerned that I might be offended. Nope, not at all. I thought it was hilarious!

This was one of the best meetings I’ve been to in a long time. The folks there did a great job asking questions, logical and important questions that were probably “difficult” and I’ll detail that after I get home to RED WING (gasp!), but in the meantime, ponder, WHAT IS MICHELETTI AFRAID OF?

And also in the meantime, check out the coal gasification market penetration scheme, it’s BRILLIANT!

Volume 1

Volume 2

Note the scenarios that they recommend, not a greenfield site from scratch like Mesaba, but coal gasification in conjunction with chemical production or in conjunction with conversion of “distressed” natural gas assets or traditional coal as was done at Wabash River. Huh, you’d think after all of Julie Jorgensen’s NRG experience with natural gas “distressed assets” they could find a good deal on a few!

Little Bro’ David always sends photos, he’s a self-described dyslexic boob who can’t write, except at a keyboard he’s actually always good for a hoot or snort, anyway, some days it’s transmission towers in the desert, other days it’s a backhoe and bobcat and huge pumps he’s fixing at the resort. Today he and Kim went to Oatman and it’s jackasses on parade… no, she’s not in the photos! Maybe it’s a political statement, he hung out with Kelly Doran for Governor as a kid.



Here’s the most recent digging in the dirt photos – the latest project (something tells me the date is off on the camera) at Islander RV Resort. He keeps asking me if I want a job, I guess they need somebody to haul the dirt away, but he’s got a CDL too. Maybe he wants me to set up cabanas or put boats in the water — I know he won’t let me chase coyotes with the golf cart, that’s HIS job.

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The internet was down, and down again, the cold water for the tub and toilet wasn’t working — froze up somewhere in the crawl space, and my old boiler just can’t get it up or maybe the house has sprung some new leaks… Sure, my car starts, but it’s a Mitsu 3 Diamond Diamond, of course it’ll start, but I can’t get started, need a total back replacement…


So I spend hours on the phone with “Tech Support” and get a new modem (hmmmm… it invariably goes out after posts on the CD2 list), and put a fan into the crawl space up against the possum proof fencing, check the gauges and add some water, bleed the radiators, and vacuum them for good measure… and office in the St. James Hotelworking, yeah, that’s it… working… I want a mango tree in the back yard, a house with a view like this, a GREEN view, color and nuclear free! Like this! Or this… and if I had $$$$$…


PreKatrina, I’d focused on N’awlins after a February visit a few years ago, trees in bloom with flowers and beads hanging, and Ross Currier’s post was a great reminder of how important it is to preserve. Tipitina’s has a Foundation and an Artists’ Relief effort. Ross was suprised that Charles Long’s talk went “from rice cultivation to The Meters” but get a grip, all roads lead to the Meters… so CLICK HERE AND WARM UP.

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Recently, Wynton Marsalis spoke at Tulane, all about changes and progressions of a different sort that your typical 2-5-1, and with a more difficult, less certain resolution:

Donâ??t wish for someone else to do later what you can do now. When you perceive a problem, instead of speaking about it in dorm rooms or in hushed corners of bars or loudly in bars. Put together a group of friends and be loud and public in your dissent.

When you notice inconsistencies between what is said by government officials and what is done, exercise your individual and collective power to take steps to remove them. Our form of democracy allows you to do that. Remember, the best way to be, is to do.

What are you going to do?


Wynton Marsalis – Renewal Series Address – 1/16/06 at Tulane

Thank you Governor Blanco, Lieutenant Governor Landrieu, and especially President Cowen for inviting me here tonight.

Itâ??s good to be home. Itâ??s especially good to be home in a time of crisis because tough times force us to return to fundamentals. And there is nothing more fundamental than home. Many of you are visitors to New Orleans, but it wonâ??t take four years for the Crescent City to be forever in your blood. So I feel in a way, that we are all home tonight.

I also feel a special honor in speaking to you on Martin Luther King, Jr.â??s Day because it was Dr. Kingâ??s tireless activism that fostered our modern way of relating to one another. Yes, we are here tonight empowered with the feeling that if we want to we can speak truthfully to one another.

We can work together. We can rely on one another because Dr. Kingâ??s actions made his dream our reality, and this rebuilding of New Orleans gives us the perfect opportunity to see if weâ??re ready to extend the legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

Look around this room and realize that the final chapter of that movement still waits for a generation with the courage to write it. Thatâ??s why I say we are all home tonight. We are all home because Dr. King led the charge to victory over regressive, ignorant traditions that had long gone unchallengedâ?¦because he was unwavering in presenting compelling arguments to make real the promises of the Constitutionâ?¦because he never succumbed to hopelessness and showed us what one citizen can achieve when armed with an evangelical zeal for freedom and a first-class education, it is most fitting to re-open our cityâ??s finest institutions of higher education on the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though he is almost always reduced to a dreamer today, Dr. King was an achiever, a most powerful exemplar of action. His last book is entitled Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? It is a question that is most appropriate for us in this moment.

Dr. King worked in the shadow of slavery and discrimination. We are in the shadow of the worst natural disaster to ever befall America.

What better way to celebrate him than by rising to a challenge?

His challenge was to reverse 80 years of legalized apartheid â?? a veritable way of life in our land of freedom. Our challenge is merely to rebuild a great city in times of unbelievable political callousness and corruption. Even in these times there are still neighbors that will turn their backs on neighbors. Yes, this is Louisiana, and we are home tonight.

Through a tireless single-minded campaign to expose lies and sanctioned injustice, Dr. King never lost faith in the ability of humans to behave better. He didnâ??t settle. He succeeded. Certainly his single-mindedness is what is required of us, at this time, to rebuild New Orleans. Donâ??t settle. Succeed.

Catchy slogans aside, when we look around here, we see destruction, anguish, and uncertainty. Letâ??s look deeper into ourselves and find possibility. Thatâ??s why itâ??s important to mark the reopening of New Orleans with the triumphant return of Tulane, Xavier, Loyola and Dillard Universities. Through first-class education, a generation marches down the long uncertain road of the future with confidence. After all is said and done, educationâ??s purpose is to lead students to who they are, what they can be, and who they want to be. The best way to be, is to do. And when we pass on the best of what we do â?¦ that is quality education.

If weâ??re lucky, we only have a good 80 years or so on this earth, and through education, those 80 are extended through the generations that follow. Look around: Paul Tulane put his life into this campus over 120 years ago. Itâ??s still here â?? inviting us tonight. I spent many a night as a high school student in the Tulane Library. Itâ??s here for us now, and will be here for young people looking for knowledge to define themselves and their time long after weâ??re all gone.

Thatâ??s why itâ??s important to address young people in the reopening of New Orleans â?? you have always been at the forefront of social change. In rebuilding, letâ??s revisit the potential of American democracy and American glory when its citizens are mobilized to enlightened action. The soldiers in Martin Luther Kingâ??s army were people demanding change – lawyers, clerks, politicians, housewives, businessmen, maids, clergymen. The ones on the frontlines were Americaâ??s youth.

Young people, much like you, who felt empowered to better our nation…who understood that change required sacrificeâ?¦who were emboldened with a spirit of rightness and were determined to create change for the betterment of our country.

That is why, as I stand before you tonight, I say the best way to be, is to do. Donâ??t settle for style. Succeed in substance. President Cowen said â??donâ??t come back if helping restore New Orleans is not in your DNA,â? and 91 percent of you Tulane students have returned. Most of you have returned at a time when many would have stayed away. And now that you are here, you have the opportunity to set a new tone, not only for New Orleans, but for our country. Remember, many a revolution started with the actions of a few. For example, only 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence of which Ben Franklin said, â??We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.â? A few hanging together can lead a nation to change.

You know, we love to patronize young people with slogans like â??the young will lead the wayâ? â?? when actually, the young very seldom lead anything in our country today. Itâ??s been quite some time since a younger generation pushed an older one to a higher standard.

My daddy thought â?? no, he expected â?? that my brothers and I and our generation would make the world a better place. He was correct in his belief because he had lived in an America of continual social progress. Depression followed by prosperity, segregation by integration, and so on.

And though I havenâ??t quite pinpointed it, somewhere between my daddyâ??s youth and mine, generational aspirations for a richer democracy changed to aspirations for a richer me – more wealth and more leisure time for a lower quality of work. Oh, and forget about our political process.

Voting became too much of a bore – let alone keeping an eye on how our tax dollars were being squandered or how our interests were being poorly served by our elected officials.

When did we begin to lose faith in our ability to effect change? Perhaps the demoralizing murders of John and Robert Kennedy, and MLK scared the civic-minded young people of the 1960s right out of their idealism into despair and then, to indifference. Perhaps it was the 1980s when the â??opportunityâ? inherent in the American Dream was distorted from the land of â??weâ? to the land of â??to hell with anybody else but me.â? Maybe the preoccupation with technological progress has overshadowed our concern with human progress. In any case, the result of this social inactivity is that generations are now named simply for the last letters of the alphabet. And these alphabet-named people are distinguished by the ability to manipulate new technology, buy new things with money they have not earned and be obsessed with the trivial lives of celebrities.

But I know youâ??re more than that.

We have the tendency to make generations unanimous. But in fact, there really have only ever been a few people in each generation who step out, are willing to put themselves on the line, and risk everything for their beliefs. Only a few actâ?¦the rest of us reap the benefits of their risk.

Yes, I always laugh when people my age complain about their college-age and teenage kids by talking about how much better we were. I laugh because I have absolutely no idea what my generation did to enrich our democracy. What movement have we been identified with that forced our elders to keep their promisesâ?¦that challenged their failures or built upon their successes? For me, we dropped the ball after the Civil Rights Movement. We entered a period of complacency and closed our eyes to the very public corruption of our democracy.

As we have seen our money squandered and stolen, our civic rights trampled, and the politics of polarity become the order of the day, we have held absolutely no one accountable. From us, you inherit an abiding helplessness.

If you realize the unfortunate consequences of inaction, hopefully you will understand even more the importance of holding both your elders and your peers accountable when it comes to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Stay up on the facts.

What, other than injustice, could be the reason that the displaced citizens of New Orleans cannot be accommodated by the richest nation in the world? You, along with the entire world, saw the bureaucratic fumbling and lack of concern inflicted on those very same citizens at the Superdome and the Convention Center. Who is being held accountable now?

Take your example, not from my generation, but from generations â?? from those few inspired young people â?? who stood on the front lines and fought injustice throughout the course of our nationâ??s history.

For example, in the first 20 years of the 1900â??s, youth supported the Progressive Movement to keep farmers from being shafted by big business, as well as the movements for womenâ??s suffrage, workerâ??s rights, a League of Nations and of course, keeping alcohol legal. The next 20 years would see the repeal of Prohibition, and young people pushing for the establishment of Social Security, and unemployment insurance. Young people vowed to fight Fascism with the Lincoln Brigades and also vowed not to fight old folksâ?? wars by taking the Oxford Oath. The 1940â??s began with young people fighting the â??Good War.â? The 50s saw young folks involved in tearing down the laws that supported segregation, challenging parental tastes and authority with rock-and-roll, and questioning conformity with the Beatniks.

The 60s and 70s saw youth challenging Vietnam, the role of women, rituals of courtship, race relations, and the political process itself. Today, we still reap the benefits of these generationsâ?? successes and suffer losses from their failures.

The rebuilding of New Orleans is an important point in the history of the United States. Should my generation expect yours to be the watchdogs of this effort? Should we expect you to monitor how our leaders handle this responsibility to restore our city? Well, my generation might not â?? because we have not been very good watchdogs ourselves. But I do. I expect you to be different than the example weâ??ve set for you.

Donâ??t wish for someone else to do later what you can do now. When you perceive a problem, instead of speaking about it in dorm rooms or in hushed corners of bars or loudly in bars. Put together a group of friends and be loud and public in your dissent.

When you notice inconsistencies between what is said by government officials and what is done, exercise your individual and collective power to take steps to remove them. Our form of democracy allows you to do that. Remember, the best way to be, is to do.

What are you going to do?

Well, when it comes to the rebuilding of New Orleans, start with the President. He stood in Jackson Square and told the nation that he would rebuild New Orleans and fix the levees. When public outrage was at its highest and his popularity was nearing its lowest, letâ??s remember that he put Karl Rove in charge of the reconstruction effort. That was in September. Has anyone seen or heard from Karl Rove? Hmmmâ?¦

In the opening days of this New Year, the President reiterated that the levees will be fixed. Yes, money has been appropriated.

But is it enough? The task has been assigned. People have been put in charge. But are they going to take care of it? Are they waiting for people â?? like you â?? to stop paying attention?

Now is the time for your generation to reclaim the energy, optimism, and fire that is the real American spirit. I am confident that you students can, and will, make an incalculable contribution to the intelligent and compassionate rebuilding of our city and protection of our dispersed populace. In doing so, you will be using your collective power to redefine the soul of our nation.

You know, democracy is a can-do form. We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation. Throughout American history, we have seen causes for the betterment of democracy invigorated by young people unafraid to fight for the general welfare of all, even if it meant alienation from their own families.

Donâ??t be disheartened by the destruction of the hurricane or by political ineptitude or even by the apathy of others. Remember, we are all home. That is why I urge you not to let this moment pass without sending a clear message to your peers and elders around the world, â??New Orleans will be rebuilt, and it will be rebuilt with an intensity, with an intelligence, with an impatience and with a freshness that only serious minded young people can bring.â? One of the great lessons of the Civil Rights Movement â?? when the minds and hearts of enough citizens are focused on change America changes very quickly.

I know that the challenge of rebuilding may seem insurmountable. But we have a roadmap to success – the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because he didnâ??t settle for â??thatâ??s just the way things are,â? we donâ??t have to. Because he led an intelligent assault on all sorts of sanctioned corruption, we too can use our intelligence to protect and project integrity.

Because he understood that all human beings are of one race long before the discovery of the DNA strain, we can now live that reality. Because Dr. King was always about the business of making real the human grandeur outlined in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, we can still believe that our government can be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Letâ??s concentrate our energies to that end.

You will hear that the most immediate concerns for New Orleans are the wetlands, the levees and the homes. But Iâ??m here to tell you that the most immediate concern for New Orleans is the well-being of our displaced neighbors spread out in a Diaspora all over the United States.

Look around the roomâ?¦and I want you all to understand that there are forces all around you who wish to exploit division, rob you of your freedom, and tell you what to think. They are afraid of changeâ?¦some of these forces are even within you. But Iâ??m here to tell you, when young folks are motivated to action, when they act with insight, soul and fire, they can rekindle the weary spirit of a slumbering nation. Itâ??s time somebody woke us up.